UPDATE: Did Ralph win or did Donny win?! Looks like the results published were different to those announced on race day, so at the moment we're not quite sure who won! The timing curse of Gravity Enduros strikes again. Will let you know as soon as possible!

Fetish Bikes UK Gravity Enduro

Round 5, Dyfi Forest, Wales

8-9 September, 2012

Words: Aidan Bishop

Photos: Barbara Sztyk

The 5th and final round of the UK gravity enduro series went down this past weekend at the venue of Dyfi forest in north Wales. Fortunately all in attendance were rewarded with ideal conditions for the whole weekend, with Saturday’s practice and seeding soaked in sunshine and the race on Sunday starting bright then clouding over which was also welcomed so riders weren’t wilting in the sun as they ground out the many climbs around the route.

Aidan Bishop enjoying a dry Welsh round! 4th on the day
Aidan Bishop

Talking of the route, it was a challenging one! Over 20 miles in total with the shortest transition time between stages being 40mins and all being mostly climbing, the ‘Enduro’ side to the discipline came into full effect this round as it was a test on everyone’s stamina, strength and fitness. So with all transition times added together the whole loop took around 4hrs to complete, do that twice over the weekend and that’s a lot of time in the saddle and with the scenery highlighted by the sunshine of the weekend it really was a great weekend of mountain biking.

To the racing side then, again 5 stages were timed varying in technicality, gradient and length.

Stage 1

With the dense forest the sun hadn’t managed to penetrate enough to dry up the trail and so it was quite greasy down this one so smooth braking and being on your guard was required. Picking up speed down a wide singletrack trail, slow up for a road crossing followed by tight rooted trees, try to exit high and carry speed back onto the trail. Pick up some high speed now before banking right and a pedal before pointing back down again. Two more blind drops and road crossing to keep you on your toes then a couple more corners to finish.

Donny, 2012 Fetish Bikes UK Gravity Enduro series elite winner.
Neil Donoghue

Stage 2

Starting out on the highest and most exposed of the loop here with some spectacular views. A fast stony trail for the first minute of this one with some timed braking into a left to right naturally banked turns before a brutal minute long fire road sprint (realistically a seated slog!). Finally turn off the road and into more fast trail with gentle corners where you could ride the edges like berms and some steps, ruts and drops to watch out for, you really picked up speed down here and it also claimed lots of flat tyres due to it being littered with sharp loose rocks all the way down. As I crossed the finish there were about 8 riders fixing punctures, a good reminder that I always run dual ply tyres to lessen the chances of flats.

Stage 3

A shorter stage here, sub 2 minutes and you’re going really well. A quick pedal off the line and follow the main greasy line from the muddy tyres riding it, soon picking up speed and staying online down the sharp flint rock that made the trail. Before a tight left on a road there were some large steps and rocks to get through intact. Come off the road and along the edge of a wide trail before it narrowed again and got rocky again too. The trail then ran along a ridge and got steep in places with a number of very sharp looking rock steps and drops before a tight right onto the fire road finish, had anyone had fallen here whilst committed to racing speeds there would have been some serious injuries, but a good test to riding skills and bravery.

Stage 4

Starting off with a very steep drop in off the side of the road into a tight left turn which many were over shooting, then nearly a minute of technical fresh cut trail in the hillside littered with roots and tree stumps before dropping down onto a hard surfaced trail and up a steep rocky climb, seemingly out of the blue. Do your best to pedal over the top of the climb and get up to speed as quick as you could along undulating dark forested trail, starting to roll nicely and then another kick in the trail really finished your legs off (if you had something left in them!). Once over this rise it was then down the fastest section of trail I have ridden in a while, all of it consistently made up of natural ‘whoops’, it was like a natural motocross track, you would manual, double up, huck or simply hang on as you hit high speeds as the trees rushed past your head as you speed through the finish line.

Stage 5

Used for the Seeding run on the Saturday also. Starting up on top off a grassy field, you set off and straight over three features, off the first step down double followed by a drop off and then another step down, all good fun to blast off but also claimed number of victims over the weekend. Carry good speed along the edge of the hill then through two corners to keep speeds modest, speed up again and judge your braking for a very off camber right hand turn and follow the camber back across the hillside. The it was on and off the grass and onto dirt corners and back again before dropping into the finish arena round one more flat grassy turn and sprint under the finish line. A real feel of old school DH tracks here with all the natural flat and off camber grass turns where braking and corner technique were put to the test. Under 3 mins and you were on the pace for this one.

‘Box’ rocking the 29’er, 3rd Elite on the day
Rob Cooksley

After a hot and tiring practice lap of the route it was time on Saturday afternoon to line up for your seeding run, which counted toward your overall race time and seeded you within your category. Tracy Moseley showed her DH experience and rode smooth and fast to set the fastest women’s time of 2:43, that was more than competitive in the overall standings too. Whilst Neil Donoghue put down the fastest time in the elite men’s field with a 2:30. In the battle for the overall series title, it was close between Donoghue and Ralph Jones, both have been consistently fast all year with the final podium spot being fought for between Myself, Rob ‘Box’ Cooksley and Alex Rafferty in the elite category, Likewise, talking to other riders most categories had battles going on to the finish, so with all sorts of points connotations to be had everyone was especially concentrating on having a clean trouble free race to secure the best end result possible.

Sunday and race day.

The sun was out again for everyone to start, this gave way to cloudier skies for most of the day, but stayed dry and was a blessing to most riders as overheating and dehydrating was less likely now. The long fire road climb (Donny managing to puncture on the way up!?!) and we were all set for racing to start on stage 1. Quite greasy conditions and judging the blind drop away features meant caution had to be exercised to give yourself a clean and solid start to your race. The longest transition to stage 2, all uphill only made less exhausting by sharing stories with other rider along the way and maybe take in some of the Welsh scenery to the top. An exposed fast start down the loose rocky trail then onto the painful fire road pedal, I was following Ralph each stage and could see him on the road and so thought I was going well until I realised how long it took to get to the point I saw him at!! Into the stony ‘luge’ like trail at high speeds trying to keep light on the bike so as not to puncture, many did here including half a dozen Senior cat riders at the end of the stage and Jones, Green and Donny casualties in Elites, but all making the stage without losing time. Arrive at stage 3 for the rocky attack, a fast stage where staying off the brakes as much as your ‘bottle’ would allow rewarded you with a quicker time.

Stage 4 and there seemed to be some sort of delay as the whole of the senior category had yet to start when we arrived. Everyone watched as rider after rider went over the bars or through the tape at the bottom of the steep drop into the stage. Ralph laid the bike down on the third corner, would this hand Donny the advantage in the overall? He was up quick and riding so any loss seemed minimal. Once you were through the technical start you had to prepare your gearing and your mind for the steep rocky climb, I took full advantage of my Cannondale Jekyll here switching down to short travel to get me up and over it. Push hard to get yourself rolling as fast as you could along the next section of trail before being faced with a painful little rise once more before blasting the last part of the stage through the finish line, everyone finishing grinning from the speeds they have just achieved down it and buzzing from the adrenaline. One more climb to the top of stage 5 and repeat our seeding runs, glad that the grass hadn’t been rained on! Having already raced the stage people knew where they had to back off (Ralph and Box both put the bike down in seeding, costing valuable seconds) and where to push, everyone seemed to finish intact, so it was time to wait and see the results to find out how everyone faired.

Punch your race number into the computer at the finish and info would pop up, giving you the first 4 stage times, along with you category position and overall position. I had finished 4th in Elite and 4th overall, I looked up other riders to discover our results. Ralph had won the day with Donny in second and Box in third the four of us separated by 9secs, in enduro terms that is a close race! So Ralph’s mishaps weren’t a factor in the end, but had Box have stayed on in seeding he may well have finished in front of Donny and would that have affected the overall series battle? I’m not about to do the maths on it, but that’s just all part of racing, and why we love it! Tracy won the elite women’s race, again ahead of Helen Gaskell and Sarah Newman. So the second year of the UK Gravity Enduro series is done and with better weather than last year and more faces taking part and rounds selling out, the discipline shows no signs of slowing down. In fact driving into the race site on the Saturday night and seeing so many people there camping, talking by little campfires it really reminded me of racing DH years ago, it seemed like a friendly mountain bike event with everyone there to enjoy riding their bikes, something which everyone got their fill of on this weekend! So a thanks to Steve and team for putting on the series once again and I look forward to more of the same.

Elite podium, Donoghue, Jones, Cooksley
Elite Podium

Results below:

Elite male

1st Ralph Jones

2nd Neil Donoghue

3rd Rob Cooksley

Elite women’s, Gaskell, Moseley, Newman
Women's podium

Elite female

1st Tracy Moseley

2nd Helen Gaskell

3rd Sarah Newman

Senior Male

1st Sam Flanagan

2nd Chris Keeble-Smith

3rd David Mirfield

Masters podium, Nicholson, Devine, Williams.
Masters podium,

Master male

1st Andrew Devine

2nd Stuart Nicholson

3rd Charlie Williams

Veteran male

1st Richy Lewis

2nd Rick Ellis

3rd Marcus Jones

Grand Vets podium, Felstead, Baines (team roost lives!), Wills
Grand Vets podium,

Grand Veteran male

1st Keven Baines

2nd Steve Felstead

3rd Dave Wills

Under 18’s

1st Ben Nott

2nd Joe Buck

3rd Rob Goodey


1st Cheri Mills

2nd Sally Evamy

3rd Liz Simmons

Overall rd 5

1st Ralph Jones

2nd Neil Donoghue

3rd Rob Cooksley

4th Aidan Bishop

5th Phil Shucksmith

Full Results here:


Big thanks to Cannondale, Mavic, RRP, Crank Brothers, Giro, GoPro, 661, Maxxis for their support all year, here’s to the next one! Hope to see everyone there!!!